Plain and simple, if you haven’t discovered embrocation, you’re missing out. I can’t say it any better than Pete Smith (referenced from Embrocation Cycling Journal):
Embrocation is the essence of cycling. One of those things that just makes your world spin. Technically, you could do without embrocation, but that’s not living. Embrocation is the jam on your toast, the honey in your tea. It’s hot infusing carrier oils with capsicum at 2:00 in the morning. It’s pure, it’s life, it’s just plain good. Embrocation used to be just for race day, but lately has found it’s way into the daily routine. Wake, shower, dress, coffee, embrocate, commute. It helps you feel cool on the hottest days and warms through to your heart when the mercury dips. Embrocation is the panacea for a ho-hum day. ~ Pete Smith, Founder of Mad Alchemy Embrocations
I’ve tried all different products but most recently I’ve been embrocating with DZ Nuts In Heat, Medium Heat. I started using it on a fluke because I ran out of my previous product and my local bike shop, Palo Alto Bicycles, happened to carry it. This is unusual as most bike shops I’ve been in don’t stock embrocation. It’s like this hidden little secret in the cycling world. I’ve always had to order products online. But the owner of DZ Nuts isn’t your average cycling product developer and it seems that his products and genius extends beyond riding a bike at the highest level. That’s an interesting story in itself.
I took the advice of my bike shop comrade and threw down a few bucks for the medium heat. I was told that the high heat is just too painfully hot unless the conditions are truly arctic. I’m glad I listened. Medium has been all the heat I’ve needed in cold conditions and near-freezing rain this winter. The embrocation goes on a bit pasty but really has the feeling of sticking to you, like it’s going to last for a few hours’ ride. And it does. You don’t need to put on a lot of it. Best to start with a little to see how you react. Common sense, I’ve found that the more I put on, the warmer and more prolonged the effect. The best part is that it really doesn’t kick in until you start heating up, then the warm glow sets in.
This morning, I rode from 7-9am. Temp: 38 degrees. I applied a fair amount of In-Heat to my upper and lower legs, then applied to my lower back and sides. I rolled out to a popular climb not far from my house that takes me about 30 minutes to ascend at an average pace (4.3 miles at 7%). It’s tough to dress for climbing in cold weather because you naturally warm on the way up but descending can be freezing if you’re drenched in sweat. This is where In-Heat really kicked in. I was warm and buzzing the whole way down. For my money, that’s the best test of an embrocation’s effectiveness.
This is the important part when embrocating: apply embrocation then put on your leg/knee warmers, then bibs. Be sure that your chamois doesn’t scrape up your leg and get the embrocation on it. Trust me. You don’t want embrocation in your nether region. If you’re going to apply a chamois cream, do it AFTER getting fully dressed and AFTER scrubbing your hands with soap. Also, don’t touch your eyes. This stuff works wherever you put it.
Here’s another tip – embrocation doesn’t just have to go on your legs. I’ll rub some on my feet, sometimes on my lower back and arms if it’s really cold or raining. In the wet, you can feel the embrocation working under drenched leg warmers and vest. It’s like adding another layer that doesn’t succumb to the cold water.
Here’s the product listing from the website:
This pro-grade embrocation combines both the traditional components and qualities of the Belgian “home brewed pastes” with modern science to create a medicated liniment that loosens and prepares muscles for maximum exertion, as well as providing warmth, protection, and comfort during the most nasty weather conditions. Developed and tested on the European roads by Garmin Transitions and Columbia HTC professional cycling teams to be an essential training and racing tool.
As you can tell, I like this product a lot. There are plenty of other embrocations out there that do a great job too. One in particular that I love when the temp dips below freezing (review to follow). I also have a handful of products that I like when the weather’s not so cold and I’ll review those when things warm up. If you’ve never tried embrocation, there’s no better time to start!